We have brought people together to begin discussions of traditional Lakota government. This is a nation. Clinton came to Oglala country. We were there. We held signs, banners –“Free Leonard Peltier”, “Stop Ethnic Cleansing”. During the time he was there he came over and endorsed the banner. What does this mean? Does it mean stop ethnic cleansing? Honor commitments to the treaty? Does it mean stopping Bill 739 forcing Black Hills money into commercial banks? It is time for people to establish a traditional form of government. It is time to begin the process and not sit back.
Alfred Bone Shirt
Stop Lakota Ethnic Cleansing
Banner signed by Bill Clinton 7-7-1999.
Following is a shortened, representational transcript of the meeting seminal to the formation of the Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition. Addressed in it are a number of the issues which are central concerns of the DLN: ethnic cleansing, the violations of treaties, the conflict between the U.S. imposed government structure and traditional ways.
First DLN Meeting
August 3, 1999
Crow Dog’s Paradise
A meeting was convened for the purpose of discussing treaty rights as well as human rights of all nations.
Chosen to chair the meeting was Alfred Bone Shirt, a community member from Rosebud who thanked Chief Leonard Crow Dog for allowing this meeting to be held here at the Sacred Sun Dance Grounds at Crow Dog’s Paradise.
ALFRED BONE SHIRT — Mr. Bone Shirt opened with the statement that this would be a Grassroots effort to address issues and to hopefully form a Lakota Human Rights Committee to work on the issues that would be discussed. Mr. Bone Shirt declared that the warriors have been standing up–tired of watching the government not doing their job, tired of numerous violations of the treaties, tired of seeing people killed with no action taken, tired of seeing children taken from their families and people suffering. He discussed the situation currently taking place with the Oglala Nation and White Clay Nebraska with regards to alcoholism. He also brought up the situation at Mobridge, S.D. where Robert Many Horses was killed. Also discussed the deaths along Rapid Creek in the Sacred Black Hills. He stated that answers are needed along with more support. He said this is our people suffering. It is time to stand up because we are tired of this. This is our land. We have brought people together to begin discussions of traditional Lakota government. This is a nation. Clinton came to Oglala country. We were there. We held signs, banners–“Free Leonard Peltier”, “Stop Ethnic Cleansing”. During the time he was there he came over and endorsed the banner. What does this mean? Does it mean stop ethnic cleansing? Honor commitments to the treaty? Does it mean stopping Bill 739 forcing Black Hills money into commercial banks? It is time for people to establish a traditional form of government. It is time to begin the process and not sit back. I asked Leonard to come here he said because we have been having meetings in Rapid City and no progress can be seen. Here on the Sacred Sun Dance Grounds we can begin to speak and pray about the issues and maybe get something done.
ALEX — Next to speak was Alex, an international lawyer who works for Rosebud. He showed a document detailing efforts overseas for the Lakota people, including the Italian government and the European Parliament. The Italian government signed a resolution of support and allegiance with the Rosebud Tribe. (Since 1994, 27 protocols of friendship have been signed between the Italian government and the Lakota Sioux Nation. A programme of youth exchanges and a health programme have been initiated. The Italian government has also opposed the exploitation of 200.000 acres of Lakota land.) In May they addressed the problem of the Mitigation Act with the Italian government. Documents were sent to the U.N. High Commission, Mr. Tom Daschle and Governor Janklow. In September an official resolution from the Italian government will be presented to the United Nations and Bill Clinton.)
MR. SIMON BROKEN LEG — Discussed the treaties and their signing. Said because of richness of the land, greedy people came from all over to take away from Indians. Being heard will only happen if we all begin to speak out. The Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868 was an act by Chief Spotted Tail and others who wanted to save others. It was supposed to be peace between both nations but never had 3/4 of Sioux Nation consent to the treaty. Chief Spotted Tail could not read or write. Mr. Simon Broken Leg has been working with Treaty Council and indicated that they had people appearing in Geneva with the High Court. He again stated that the Treaty Council was working to preserve the land for the people.
ALFRED BONE SHIRT — Discussed the role of the Catholic Church on Rosebud. They oppress the people and only let their agenda be heard on our radio station, KINI. Other tribal radio stations work to inform and liberate the minds of their people such as KILI in Pine Ridge and KLND in Little Eagle. If we want to be traditional then we need to be sovereign. People need to come together. We need to renew our spirituality and strengthen our people. Leonard Peltier needs to be here. People are getting sent to jails and prisons in Rapid City and Pierre every day. We need to say enough is enough. We need to bring people home.
RICHARD GRASS — At Bear Butte in 1981 independence was declared. The Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people made covenant with the government. If we pray hard we will heal the people and nations. In 1991, Richard Grass traveled to the U.N. meeting in the Hague, Netherlands. Rosebud was accepted as an Independent State. 53 nations are part of it. We have the authority and the right to liberate our people. We need a commission here now to begin healing with the pipe. Richard Grass has done extensive research and work with treaty rights. Taking property, water, resources, children is against international law. We need to get organized and begin the process here.
GENE IRON SHELL, SR — Gene Iron Shell thanked people and Uncle Leonard. Indicated that he had been working on treaty and human rights since his retirement. Hear things all over that they are not good. It has been that way for so long. We seem to follow the same trail over and over. We want to change but don’t know how. We fail to use the resources. It is appropriate to be here at Crow Dog’s. Many prayers will be for finding resolution and solutions to our problems. It is good to listen to people like Mr. Broken Leg and Mr. Grass who are knowledgeable. My relatives were with Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn. We have warriors here who were at Wounded Knee. Many warriors have been to war. We know what it is to be there. We can help each other. All the elements of a good way of life are here. Many nations, Lakota people, Chiefs from all over. All here to find solutions to the human rights problems.
CHIEF NORMAN — (Chief Norman is of the Denai Nation.) I believe in this way of life. We need to come back to the traditional needs for the people. We are people of the land and we need to come together. We need to preserve the land for our children. The land and our culture. If we teach our children right then we will be strong. We need to teach the traditional tongue. We need to put sage in the homes. We need to go back to the way of life where our thoughts and our prayers are strong. If a Christian church needs to be built on the reservation, it is built. If we need a ceremonial ground, then we need papers. We even need papers to gather the ceremonial peyote. The police–including tribal, CIA, BIA and marshals–attempted to stop the traditional Sun Dance in my nation. Chief Crow Dog and myself confronted them. They had their hands on their guns. We had only a feather. Teach your children and yourself to be honest. We will then be strong and continue to fight for our traditional rights.
RUSSELL EAGLE BEAR — We need to understand the traditional forms of government. We need to look back at the ceremonies and understand them. People say we have too many Sun Dances. I tell them we need one for each church on the reservation. We need to teach our young people what traditions and ceremonies are. We need to question who we are and where we are going. In the last 60 years of the IRA government we have had so many problems, including alcoholism, drugs, elder abuse. We need to pray and go back to the traditional ways so people can have good health and be strong.
CHIEF OSCAR MORENO — I came here 17 years ago to find a place to pray. I hope one day that all people would come together to pray as nations. I support any effort of the Warrior Society and the Chiefs to do what is needed to bring back the traditional ways of our people. The time has come. The elders have told us. There is no tomorrow or another year. This is the time.
CHIEF LUCIANO PEREZ — A long time ago America took the land. Why do we have to go back to a revolution or guerilla warfare. Our children are oppressed. At the U.S.- Mexican border our relatives are hunted down by a system that oppresses the people. We see on the news about the huge outcry because of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. It is happening here to our people and nothing is done. We need to get involved. I came here after Vietnam and Grandpa Henry and Leonard healed my spirit. We all need to continue to heal. Walking in the traditional way is the way to continue because of the children. We need to care for them, their minds, hear and spirit. We can’t do it alone. As a fist is strong and a single finger is weak, we need to come together as that fist. We are all affected. Not only the Native Americans but the white people as well. This is our way of life. The way to honor is to stand together. One fist for all. We need to start with the step today. One step of many.
JOHN CROW DOG — Talked about First Amendment rights and why they don’t stand for all of us. We are all free according to the constitution but it does not pertain to our people. We need to forget that we are from separate tribes. We are one nation of this land and with united effort we can fight and win. Prayers are the same in heart. All men pray to the real spirit and we all feel the same thing in our heart. Prayer should be in everything. We need to stand together and say this is enough. There are lots of questions and no ready answers. We need to make it happen. We need to listen to the elders and stand together.
LELAND LITTLE DOG — We need to plan on educating the people about what treaties mean and what role the government plays. We started out with local issues and then went on to regional and national and finally international issues. We are encouraged that people here are from all over. We are all friends and allies. The government exploits our natural resources while our people are living in poverty. There is a lot going on without consent of the people. The money being generated is for the children and the elders. We are rich in resources but on top of the poverty list. The IRA government is doing things without the consent of the people. We are concerned about the 3rd largest hog farm. They will be using over 3,000,000 gallons of pure water a day. The women started the protest. It is our job to step forward to define what is going to affect us. We need to protect our medicine plants, protect the buffalo and protect our water. Everything has to do with human rights. We are asked for alternatives. Our land on Rosebud generates $12,000,000 but benefits less than 200 people. The other 20,000 live in poverty. We need to develop programs and improve housing. Our women and children are held hostage by the system. All across the world we are not letting native people say what they can do with their resources. People need to be educated about our trust responsibilities. We need to work with the children to teach the creation, history and the honor of our people.
BILL BRAVE BIRD — We need to protect the future generations of children and make people aware. We have vast resources with no utilization for the people. Only a few benefit and the rest live in poverty. We need to reclaim the spiritual identity and show honor to the elders. We can not live without this. Younger people need to get involved to determine their future. Everyone claims our children are our future but there is no action.
LELAND LITTLE DOG — We need to educate our people. We need to teach ourselves about the traditional government. We need to bring people together. We need to teach women and young girls the power they have. It is the responsibility of the men to back the women. Without the women we have no nation. We need to begin the process of healing, to restore the land, generate jobs and do away with welfare. We need to start to mediate between people who take care of the pipe. The pipe is the center of traditional government. Customary law is anything we decide to do. There is lots to address. We need to start with meetings. We need to make the IRA government listen and tell them how to manage the lands, air, water, to improve the human rights and start taking control of our resources. We are concerned about our children in poverty. When they started to talk about the hog farm, we talked about the scaffold graves. They did not listen. We talked about the historical trails and they did not listen. It is not right to build on top of the traditional black pipe stone quarry. History repeats itself. We are the same people being persecuted again. When the tree is up remember those who are fighting, those who are tired of poverty, the safety of women and children. It is up to us. Keep on fighting and don’t be afraid.
FRANK JOHN KING III — Our tribal chairman stated that treaties are ancient history. When he did this he insulted all who work on them and who fought and died for them. Our current leadership caters only to the inner needs. They do not care for the people. We have enemies in the white world and this will always be so. However, the major damage to our people comes from within. From people like Mike Jandreau and Greg Bourland. They suppress the people and do what makes them look good to the whites. Tribal leaders proclaim they are traditional, yet they don’t understand our ceremonies and our ways. The 1934 IRA government can be changed. We have to adopt the traditional ways to get the courage to say that this is enough and that we are going to reorganize and reconstruct and regenerate jobs. We can’t trust our leaders. The younger generations need to get involved. Warriors need to be involved. This is where the future lies. We must remove the dangers to our people. We are the ones. We need to keep traditions alive. We nave to have courage to stand up and make changes and not be afraid. We need to focus our energy on the people. A healthy nation is where we need to start.
CHIEF CHARLES SCRIBE — (Winnepeg) It is an honor to be here. Many similar things are happening in Canada. The government has not lived up to their commitment. Our elders call our leaders “Pretend Chiefs”. People live in poverty although they were promised jobs and benefits. This never happened. We need to pray. Faith in the Creator will help us all.
JOHN RANGEL — I am grateful for the ability to help people. We need to work together and pray together. We belong to the land. We have so much land, yet we are homeless. It doesn’t have to be that way.
FABIAN WILLIAMS — (British Columbia) Our land is gone. We haven’t been able to build a new house in ten years. Thousands of high rises are built on our land. The salmon are dying, our rivers are dammed up. We receive nothing from the government. They steal from us and don’t compensate us. I am here to pray and sacrifice. I do this for my people. We must walk the Red Road. It works. My concern is for my people. Our problems just keep going on. We talk all day and nothing happens.
THOMAS PERRY — (Lake Babine Nation of Western Carriers, British Columbia) We are here tonight to listen to our Elders and our Chiefs. We need to listen with our ears and our hearts. They can take anything away but can never take our ability to pray. As I listen, many things are the same for my people. Our lands are being cut, our ability to hunt and fish are being limited, mining is causing cancer among my people. It is sad that so many of the similar things with our people are negative in nature. Our people are being targeted for prison. I rely on spirituality to maintain my life. It also gives me desire to keep on living in meaningful ways to help the people.
JEFFREY WHITE HORSE HUBBELL — I am a young Chief learning how to walk with the bonnet. We depend on prayer and spiritual life to live. My concerns are for the children. So many are being placed on Ritalin and Prozac. Parents need to be informed. We have to be aware. We need good thoughts and good prayers.
ALFRED BONE SHIRT — We are going to end here tonight. I have petitions that I will pass around to turn the radio station back to the people. We want to limit the fund raising (of the Catholic church on Rosebud). We can stop this. We have the power. Thanks to all the Chiefs, to my brothers, to all the grandmas and the children. This meeting is for you and future generations. We will make change.
Close with prayer.